Canadian men claim World Cup speed skating bronze in Japan
Team sprint squad marks Canada's 1st and only podium finish at season opener
Canada's men's team sprint squad captured the country's first medal at the season-opening speed skating World Cup event on Sunday in Obihiro, Japan.
The team of Laurent Dubreuil, Christopher Fiola, Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu and David La Rue finished the event third in one minute, 20.98 seconds.
Watch Canada's men's team sprint squad capture bronze at season opener:
The Dutch took gold in 1:19.780 while Norway won silver in 1:20.790.
"The race was really good," said Fiola. "The other teams were really fast, but we still managed to get the bronze medal. It's really encouraging for the World Cups to come and we know we can do even better."
Blondin 4th in 3,000m
Canada came fifth in the ladies' team sprint, behind a podium that included Russia, Japan and the Netherlands. Calgary's Kaylin Irvine, Winnipeg's Heather McLean and Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin posted a time of 1:29.540 and netted 80 points.
After a fifth place finish in the ladies' mass start race on Saturday, Blondin earned another impressive result on Sunday, this time a fourth-place finish in the ladies 3,000 metres.
The two-time Olympian, who won a pair of World Cup medals in the distance last season, completed the race in 4:07.139 and occupied the bronze medal position going into the final pairing. She was bumped off the podium by eventual silver medallist Natalia Voronina of Russia, who posted a time of 4:05.023.
Ottawa's Isabelle Weidemann skated a time of 4:07.139 and finished ninth. It marked her second top 10 result of this World Cup, the first an eighth-place finish in yesterday's mass start.
Bloemen cracks top 15 in 5,000
Dubreuil earned his third top 10 result of the weekend — a seventh-place finish in the men's 1,000 — with a time of 1:09.606. He had previously finished fifth in the 500 metres (1) and ninth in the 500 (2). Gelinas-Beaulieu was also amongst the top 10 skaters in the men's 1,000 metres, finishing in 10th position with a time of 1:09.833.
Russia's Pavel Kulizhnikov won the men's 1,000-metre race, clocking in at 1:07.85 seconds to finish 0.54 seconds ahead of Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands. Thomas Krol, also of the Netherlands, took the bronze with a time of 1:08.62.
Krol's compatriot Patrick Roest won the men's 5,000 metres and the Netherlands also claimed top honours in the team sprint event.
In the men's 5,000, reigning Olympic silver medallist and world record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary posted a time of 6:28.647, ranking him 13th overall.
Austrian Vanessa Herzog won the women's 1,000 with a time of 1:14.56, edging local favourites Nao Kodaira and Miho Takagi.
Esmee Visser of the Netherlands clinched her career first World Cup victory in the women's 3000 metres with a time of 4:04.60. Russia's Natalya Voronina took the silver while Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic won the bronze. Russia took home the women's team sprint gold.
Watch a full replay of the speed skating World Cup from Obihiro, Japan - Day 3
With files from The Canadian Press and Associated Press